I was recently in the market for an HDMI monitor. The motherboard I was using only had HDMI output for the integrated video, and surprisingly, none of the monitors I had lying around had HDMI input. I was looking for something in the 21.5″ size arena (give or take).
I also wanted built-in speakers. After all, if you’re going HDMI instead of DVI, you may as well get sound.
Oh, and power efficient. It had to be power efficient. Nobody likes spending electricity money to heat their house in summer.
Popped on NewEgg, and at a certain price point, my choices were between:
- A highly reviewed ASUS monitor.
- The ViewSonic VX2253mh-LED monitor with no visible reviews.
Curiosity got the best of me. Technically, NewEgg had reviews showing in the listing, but nothing showed up in the “Feedback” part. And there wasn’t much on the web.
The ViewSonic VX2253mh also claimed lower power consumption (< 20w), and included an HDMI cable. So I grabbed the ViewSonic – I’d never owned a ViewSonic anything before.
I nabbed a few uninteresting images – click for larger versions.
So, hooked it up to the Apple TV and started playing. Since my last “user review” was rather long, I’ll try to do this one in point-form, and list the things I noticed:
- The stand sucks. It’s wobbly. Part of the problem is that the screw which attaches the 2 together threads through BOTH the stand and the monitor – it *should* rotate freely within the stand and only thread into the other end (the monitor) for a tight fit. As it is, to minimize the wobbliness, you have to try and squeeze both together as you thread it in.
- The display/picture is pretty decent. I’ve seen better, but I’ve seen much worse – I’d throw this in as average. It’s a matte screen by the way (not gloss). I haven’t noticed any dead pixels yet – always a good thing.
- The speakers are weak. Like really weak. My laptop is much louder. And I think even the speaker in the back of the Mac Mini who’s sole purpose is to play a “chime” at start-up is probably louder.
- Power consumption is fantastic. I’d mentioned it’s rated at < 20W. At max brightness it hits 20W. You can crank the brightness down all the way and get that to 12-13W (and everything’s still perfectly visible as long as the contrast is still set). For reference, the ASUS I’d compared this against had a rating of about 25W.
- It makes an annoying noise as the brightness is turned down. At full brightness, you can’t hear it. Update: the sound is actually coming from the power brick. In addition, my brother came by and could hear it quite loudly even at full brightness (I hadn’t even mentioned it – he brought up “what’s that noise?!“.
- The power plug is the “brick” style (converts to 19VDC). An odd thing to mention, I know. But expect it to take up a couple slots on your power bar / UPS, and expect it to fall out easily if bumped. I’d have preferred the ASUS style (which uses the normal computer power cable).
- There are 2 HDMI ports & 1 VGA port (no DVI). You’ll probably come across that tidbit while shopping anyway, but it’s worth a mention. A pro if you plan to plug in 2 HDMI devices. A con if you ever need to hook it up to a computer with a DVI port.
- It’s “PC/Mac-compatible”. Of course, everything is. But this has SRS software for both the PC and Mac. Except the Mac SRS software on the CD doesn’t work (it’s actually got a corrupted Archive file deep within it’s OS X installer). So if you bought it for that SRS software, chances are you’ll be looking for a pirated version (ViewSonic doesn’t even offer it on their site).
- The menus/controls are terrible. They’re clunky. Aside from the power button, there are 4 more. The function of every button is to kinda-get-you-into-the-menu-somewhere, although depending on which button you pressed, you can’t navigate through the menu. It’s not intuitive. It takes some trial-and-error. Oh, and you can’t adjust anything unless there’s “input” coming in to the monitor.
- Due to the aforementioned terrible controls, adjusting the volume is a pain. After you hit the buttons to get into the volume section of the menu (possibly multiple buttons depending on which button you hit to enter the menu), it takes FOREVER to turn the volume up or down – the numbers tick from 0-100 very slowly. You might be tempted to spam the up/down button really fast instead of holding it, but the monitor wobbles too much for that to work.
- There is a setting you can change which affects overscan. Normally, TV’s use “overscan”, and if you hook up a computer to a TV, it’s not uncommon to find all the edges cut off. The ViewSonic does have a setting you can flip to “PC”, and it’ll disable overscan – everything will fit perfectly.
- Update: the monitor also had problems playing a DVD through the computer (lines would flash on the screen). I swapped the HDMI cable to no avail. It had worked previously, and swapping in a TV worked fine, so I’m not sure of the cause. Perhaps it has problems with HDCP (the DRM that gets passed down the cable). Between this and the non-working Mac SRS software they included, I wonder if perhaps they should include a link to The Pirate Bay in their documentation to save customers some time.
Ok, point form didn’t make things much shorter afterall. Sorry ’bout that.
You know, if nothing else I would have thought that a monitor which provides 2xHDMI inputs would have focused on the HDMI experience. After all, they forego a DVI port to get 2xHDMI. They’re one of the few that include an HDMI cable with the monitor. And of course it *does* have speakers built in.
But the truth of the matter is… it wasn’t well thought-out at all in that area. Chances are that most people who buy the thing for the 2 HDMI ports are doing it so they can hook up their computer *and* a DVD/BluRay/AppleTV/etc. Not 2 computers. And when that person goes to play something from their device, they’re going to find out that the volume is too weak, and if for some strange reason they ever have to turn the volume down, it’s a bit of a process.
As a computer monitor it’s sufficient, but you’d still be better served buying a different monitor with better speakers, a DVI port (in case you ever need it), a better menu, and maybe even a normal computer power cable that doesn’t take up multiple-spaces on your outlet-bar. Oh, and maybe one that doesn’t have noise emanating from the lower left corner.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate the thing. But it’s the first time I’ve bought a monitor and had it not meet expectations. It’s a bit sad that the thing I’m happiest about is the ability to enable/disable overscan. Aside from the picture/image being fine, and the low power consumption, they managed to underwhelm in every other area.
If you need 2xHDMI ports, are focused on low power consumption, or find the monitor at a great price, the ViewSonic might fit the bill (as long as the quirks won’t affect/bother you).
Otherwise, I’d tend to look elsewhere.
This was my first ViewSonic. I’m sorry to say it’ll probably be my last.